girlfriend – ‘3AM rituals’ (Track By Track)

girlfriend 3am rituals track by track

3AM rituals Available Now Via Bandcamp.

Insomnia, I think, is probably an extremely universal experience. Most of us have been there. I know I have. I imagine that everyone has certain ‘rituals’ to deal with these situations. Drink whiskey, smoke cigarettes, drink coffee, play computer games, it could be anything.

Being unable to sleep is the main subject of Dublin lo-fi alt rock quartet girlfriend’s cathartic and intimate debut EP 3AM rituals, which is out not via Bandcamp. The deeply personal set is sometimes beautiful and sometimes disturbing. I mean, I still haven’t been able to listen to ‘nirvana lodge’ all the way through as it genuinely unnerves me.  Recently, the quartet had an in depth chat with us about each song on the EP, which pretty much increased the impact of these tracks tenfold for me.

3AM rituals EP

Hello, we are girlfriend and we’re a four piece band from North Dublin, in Ireland. We have Lahela on drums, Lisa on bass, Hana on vocals and Sophie on guitar. This is gonna be a track by track of our first release 3AM rituals. Sophie suggested the name because she hasn’t slept since 2003 and writes music and screams at three in the morning, so we liked that idea. The cover and artwork for the EP were pictures Hana and Sophie took with a disposable camera in a local graveyard one night. We recorded the majority of the EP over the space of a week in Lahela’s home. The entire EP was recorded using just one condenser mic. Hana and Lahela both turned 18 the same week we recorded and we watched the same My Chemical Romance live show like twice everyday for inspiration.

1. ‘kill them all (your feelings)’

Hana: Sophie wrote the majority of the lyrics to this song, but to me it’s a song about friendship and trying to keep friendship afloat for the sake of your friends when your own mind is crushing you in every way. Friendship is a massive thing to this band, so we thought it would be a good way to start off the EP. We actually recorded this song live in like one take i’m pretty sure and then just tracked vocals and some other bits. Yea.

Sophie: So I wrote a lot of the songs when I basically had a nervous breakdown last year, so the general meaning behind this is not wanting to bring your friends down by telling them how unstable the state you’re in is so you try to fake it til ya make it; but in the end realising you won’t live to see out the year if you don’t let people help you. The verse lyrics are a bit all over the shop because they were racing thoughts I had about hypothetical situations I made up but still kinda connect in a weird way. It’s also about loss of identity to love and a bunch of other things; I’m proud of this one and it always makes me grateful about my galz in this band. I really like the bridge part, that was hard to work into the song, but i really like what i wrote there.

Lahela: We recorded this song live basically on a whim with one mic for the room and one vocal mic. It has a lot of energy. This song is very much for me about putting on a brave face or “skin” for the sake of the people around you despite things not being that great in reality. It’s simple but I think I’m too far behind is a powerful lyric because it conveys that feeling where you’re so deep in your own mind you’ll never catch up to the people around you.

Lisa: It was the last track recorded on the EP…. I think. It was a lot of fun to record, mainly because before we had the words and melody of the vocals we had jammed out the instrumental parts of the song, we just called it “the punk song”. It’s the only fast track on the EP. Because of the way we recorded it, I actually never heard the words until it was played back. To me, the meaning is very self-explanatory, the song looks at the sadness of a person, and how it affects friendship. It’s about putting your friend’s happiness before you, and ignoring your sadness. You don’t want to open up and talk about it, but you don’t want your friend to leave you behind.

2. ‘don’t come to my funeral’

Hana: To me this song is sort of just looking at how your mental state is affecting your present and future life and being pretty scared of it all. I like this song cos me and Sophie get to sing together on it.

Sophie: Wrote this song about what I was freaked out about last year, like being suicidal and losing everything and really questioning everything I did but also it’s slightly apathetic. It’s kind of like okay I’m scared but I’m too tired of trying to really care about it all; but look this song is a banger and it makes me happy get to sing it with my sisterwife Hana. We recorded the drums and guitar live and added vocals and bass afterwards.

Lahela: A lot of people enjoy and relate to this song.

Lisa: It’s about feeling really lost in the world, not knowing how to move forward or how to move back. The feeling of being trapped and hopeless. and not wanting to remain like that forever.

3. ‘pissbaby’

Hana: This is the first song we wrote as a band that we didn’t scrap I’m pretty sure. This is also basically the first song I ever wrote full stop. This song is, in a nutshell, about relationships going sour. When I wrote it, I was basing it off one incident in particular but since then it has become applicable to a lot of relationships I’ve had in my personal life too, romantic, platonic and familial.

It’s sort of about making the mistake of putting your trust in the wrong person and the embarrassment, regret, and eventual numbness to it all that comes about from having it happen to you so many times. Toward the end of the song you can hear us sort of talking faintly in the background. We did this to add ambiance I guess, but I’m pretty sure it was just Sophie talking about eating too much spaghetti one time.

Sophie: I used to hate playing this song because it took me the longest time to record, but I don’t hate it that much now, kinda. From my perspective, it’s like Hana says; the song is about a relationship gone wrong, but I see the song as introspective too; like both the narrator and subject are the “pissbaby” here. Everyone can relate to this one really, and we’ve got some nice chorus going on here which makes any song sound nice.

Lahela: I remember Sophie showing us the opening guitar riff to this song, and I remember just melting into it. It just has a great 90’s sitcom feel to it. The bass in this song is particularly good. When I was “mixing” it (if you can even call it that) the rest of the band would always say “turn up the bass more!!” And I’m like you don’t know what’s good for you!! It’ll ruin the mix god dammit!!!

Lisa: Hrrrrmmmm. For some reason my idea of this song differs a lot from the girls. I think it’s about getting over the stuff you were scared of when you were younger. And being called a “pissbaby” because of it. I like playing this song a lot because it has lots of interesting bass parts. Lahela did a good job mixing it.

4. ‘nirvana lodge’

Hana: I guess this is our angry song. Sophie wrote this based off a very real life experience that happened to her very close to home so I’ll let her explain. I like this song because I get to scream and I think it’s really important to be angry if you’re angry. We pretty much make this song up as we go along every time we play it live, we’re not sure what it’s really meant to sound like funnily enough, there’s no real structure to it, we just play it by ear.

The whispering at the end of a song is a sort of subtle shout out to our love for the band My Chemical Romance, particularly their Bullets era, and i guess is meant to emulate the whispering at the end of ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’. I can’t remember exactly what we were saying, but myself, Lahela and Sophie all stood around the mic and took on different roles. So one of us was the perpetrator, one was the victim, and one was sort of like an omnipresent god like figure i’m pretty sure and we all just improvised a little about what was going on in the song from our respective points of view.

Sophie: This song was inspired by a really weird and scary thing that happened to me a couple of years ago, and named after a place connected to it. I wrote the lyrics as a poem and I was listening to a lot of Slint stuff at the time, which you can definitely tell. This song is something we never play the same or perfectly and that’s refreshing to me. I’m still super creeped out by this song and what happened because i have to pass by Nirvana Lodge on my home everyday.

Lahela: This song still creeps me out so much. You’re supposed to feel a bit uncomfortable after listening to it, I think. This song is based on one event but I think it’s applicable to a lot of different situations as well.

Lisa: I was very slow to like this song, but now it’s my favourite to play live. The energy we put into it is incredible, but recording it was an absolute mess. Nobody knew the structure, we just guessed. I never thought that a sort of “spoken word” song would appear on the EP but here she is. Everyone who hears it is always uncomfortable, but what the song is about is meant to make you feel uncomfortable, it is wrong and gross and sick.

5. ‘the stuff you think about late at night and never tell anyone about’

Hana: Honestly I’m not entirely sure where to start with this song because there’s so much to it, lyric and content wise. I wrote this song in the space of maybe three days when I was under a lot of stress. I wrote it in my bed pretty late at night.

This song started off I guess as an examination of my struggle with my mental state and health over the past maybe 10 years, and how much it has affected me in the past and present day still. I found it really difficult, but I pushed myself to be as brutally honest with myself in this song as I could, which meant I had to change some lyrics last minute to be more truthful. I talk about a lot of things that have happened to me, and some significant events I guess that have stuck out to me growing up. The main premise of the last chorus and outro is basically taking a look at how going through a really intense period of being extremely suicidal when I was pretty young still affects me in massive ways in the present day even though I’m miles better than I was in that time. It still haunts me.
Wow, that was pretty dark, sorry guys. I promise I’m not that grim in real life.

Sophie: The title came from this one time when we were playing some weird game and someone asked how do you describe the band’s music and lyrics and I said “it’s the stuff you think about at night and never tell anyone about” which connects to the EP title and a lot of the other songs. This was definitely a hard one to reach in and pull out of her, so Hana did a really great job on those lyrics. We worked on the dynamics of this one a lot, and it paid off for sure.

Lahela: This song used to be called “riding on trains with friends”. This song is long but it’s very moving, the lyrics touch on youth and memories and it’s almost nostalgic. The lyrics invoke such a specific mood or feeling for me. We got to scream on it which was pretty exciting. We also added some “oohs” on the background that were just the cherry on top when recording it.

Lisa: I still call it “riding on trains with friends”. I don’t remember what we called it in the end, sometimes I do but I always get it wrong. It’s my favourite song to listen to on the EP, Lahela mixed it real well. When Sophie first played the guitar riff thing for it we all fell in love with it, I could listen to it all day. It has a weird structure that took us all some getting used to. Lyrically the song is complex. It looks at mental health issues and back experiences from a past point of view. It very much focuses on the negative, as does much of the EP surprise, surprise. But I have to admire Hana for being able to put into words all these little things, ideas, and experiences into one song the way she did. I love how it’s written.

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